WEC insights on energy trade highlighted at WTO and Energy Charter event

Posted on 30 April 2013

The WEC has highlighted the areas where international trade rules for energy goods and services need to be improved at a workshop held last month (29 April) by the World Trade Organization and the Energy Charter in Geneva.

At the workshop, Einari Kisel, WEC senior fellow, presented the WEC report, Principles on Rules of Trade and Investment, some of the recommendations from which have already been adopted by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

KiselWTOThe report calls for improvement in market access to energy goods and services, for government policies to foster technology and innovation by the private sector, and for international greenhouse gas agreements to be the main tool to reduce cross-border carbon leakage.

Mr Kisel said: “These are intended to serve as a basis for the further work by WTO and Energy Charter.”

The 51 member governments of the Energy Charter agreed last year to modernise the 1991 accord, which provides a framework for international energy cooperation based on open, competitive markets and sustainable development. The WTO in turn sets rules for international trade of goods and services, which are also applicable to the energy sector.

The Geneva workshop urged its government delegates to reduce trade barriers to energy goods.

“Given the two-way relationship between energy and trade it is paradoxical that the multilateral trading system has not done more for energy,” noted WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy at the workshop, where WEC was invited to speak.

Mr Lamy continued: “WTO members have not yet capitalised on the opportunities offered by the first ever multilateral negotiations on the environment, in particular the mandate to open trade in environmental goods and services. By reducing trade barriers on these goods and services, WTO members would provide each other access at lower cost to a greater variety of clean energy technologies. Rapidly completing these efforts would have tangible benefits for development, the environment, and trade.”

The workshop addressed the controversies surrounding international regulations of energy trade and investments and highlighted challenges that arise when adapting new climate change regulations.

At the event H.E. Selim Kuneralp, Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference, added that in order to create predictability in the energy sector, enforceable multilateral rules are of increasing importance, and in this context the dialogue with all partners should be enforced.